Today we reflect on the extraordinary life of Anita S. Headley, grateful for her many contributions to our family, our community, and our company. Anita passed away this morning at the age of 83.
Anita co-founded Headley Construction in 1971. Along with her husband, Bill, she grew our business into an award-winning company that has created thousands of jobs and successfully completed over $300 million in commercial construction projects.
Anita was more than just a brilliant businesswoman who built a strong foundation of success from her kitchen table on Jackson Street. She is remembered by Headley Construction employees as a funny, kind, and compassionate friend.
We were routinely inspired by Anita’s deep commitment to her neighbors — perhaps what she will be most widely remembered for by the public. Many communities have benefitted from her wisdom and generosity, none more than our wonderful hometown of Newnan.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all who knew and loved Anita.
Please enjoy the following excerpt from an interview with Anita Headley, which appeared in a special section of the Newnan Times-Herald as Headley Construction celebrated its 25th Anniversary Year.
Anita Stewart of Wadley, Alabama, eventually to be Mrs. William Headley, met Bill at Kowliga Beach in Alabama in 1955.
“He was a lifeguard and my boyfriend was a lifeguard and we all double dated. Bill and I met again when I came back to Alexander City as a registered nurse to fulfill my scholarship obligations at Russell Hospital for Birmingham Baptist Hospital School of Nursing. He asked me to a high school football game and we were married in April of 1961, seven months later,” Mrs. Headley said.
“We had been married three weeks and he was on a job site in Prattville, Alabama when Bill fell through a roof and broke his back. He wasn’t paralyzed, but he was hospitalized. It was during that time that he decided he needed to settle down.
“We went back to Alexander City, where he worked for Russell Mills Inc. as an engineer. After moving, ‘Little Bill’ was born in June of 1962.
“He didn’t feel like he was being challenged at the mill when a former superintendent called and asked him if he’d be interested in moving to New York. Bill said no, but they kept on and on. In the spring of 1963, we moved to Southhampton, New York. That was the first job he did for Goodrich Building Corporation. Mitchell was born in February of 1965. When Mitch was six weeks old, we moved to Ames, Iowa. Two years later we moved to Oklahoma City. All of these moves were for Goodrich, which had its home office in New York City.
“In Oklahoma, Bill was project manager of all the jobs west of the Mississippi. In 1969 we moved to Chappaqua, New York, Westchester County, north of NYC. At that point, he was in charge of construction all over the United States. We did a tremendous amount of traveling,” Mrs. Headley continued.
Matthew was born in January 1970 in New York.
“The next year Bill began working on a dream that he had always had: to own his own company. We started looking for possible sites. Georgia was high on the list. When driving to the airport we used to kid, ‘One of these days, we’ll just live in one of these old houses in Newnan.’ The dream became a reality when we learned that Newnan had no general contractor the size we wanted to be. After research, we found Newnan to be a good place to raise children and we selected Newnan as the place we wanted to spend the rest of our lives,” she said.
“J.T. Williams showed us our house one night at 6:30. We made an offer on it and, to our surprise, it was accepted. That was the house at 200 Jackson Street where we lived until 1993. Having moved again, Luke Headley was born in December of 1974. Now you see why we’re not going to move anymore (to another town anyway),” she laughed.
Mrs. Headley has always been an integral part of her husband’s career. “When he was on the road with Goodrich, I’d do his contracts with his subs. I never accepted any pay from Goodrich, but one night at a company dinner, they presented me with a mink stole.
“We actually started Headley Construction in the house on Jackson Street,” she continued. “I always came downstairs fully dressed because I never knew who would be waiting to meet with Bill in the living room. In the very beginning, I did the payroll and office work, pre-computer days, totally manually, with about 15 employees. When Luke came along, I didn’t work for a while.
"One day Jim Rogers and Bill picked me up at home and we went to the Newnan airport to watch planes. Jim told me money was tight and there were going to be cutbacks and I was going to have to go back to work. I cried and said I couldn’t and Jim said I could. He was right: I could. That began my daily work with Headley Construction. It was funny that Bill sat there while it was Jim who told me I was going to have to go back to work.”
“By degrees, we were able to hire more help and my job kept getting phased out until I ended up being the trouble-shooter: everything that nobody else wanted to do ended up on my desk,” she said.
Today, Mrs. Headley manages the property that she and Headley own, including The Commercial House which is office space for lease with a secretarial and answering service and a full-time receptionist. “I also manage our apartments, other office and warehouse space and houses. I still am available for whatever they need me to do, but most of my time is spent at The Commercial House,” she said.
About the future of Headley Construction, Mrs. Headley commented, “I would like to see several things happen in the future: The Headley Corporation should have a construction division, a real estate division, a legal/accounting division and maybe even its own electrical/plumbing division. I’d like to see each phase headed by a Headley (but that’s years down the road) with Ma and Pa sitting on their rocking chairs on the deck at the condo, whether it be at Panama City or Newnan.”
Mrs. Headley belongs to Central Baptist Church where she serves in the Myrtle Mann Sunday School Class, the Baptist Women’s Service Organization (which feeds 100 people once a week with home-cooked food), the Women’s Missionary Union, and the Wedding Committee. She is also the Associational Director of the Western Baptist Association of the WMU. Active in civic affairs, she is on the Board of The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society and serves on the Board of the Coweta County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Bill Jr., 33, has been married four years to former Keri Shannon of Jacksonville, Florida. They live in Newnan and will be moving to Augusta soon where Bill has been accepted into the Medical College of Georgia. Keri is attending West Georgia College, studying business finance. Mitchell, 30, is a project manager with Headley Construction. Matthew, 25, received his degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University. Luke, 20, is on sabbatical from Auburn University, working this summer for Headley Construction.
“We’re proud of what Headley Construction has done over the last 25 years. With the help of our skilled employees, we truly believe we’ve helped to build a better world. With their continued help, we want to keep serving the Southeast with quality workmanship,” she concluded.
For another 25 years, Anita Headley remained a strong presence at Headley Construction, and a force for good throughout the Southeast, until her death in January 2022. The entire Headley family is deeply grateful for the countless messages of remembrance, and outpouring of love & support received from the community.